Tuesday, 26 August 2014


Tuesday August 26

Suffering from a lack of birds to go for, our attention has turned even more to moths and insects/bugs in general. We've attended two moth trap opening sessions at Cley Centre and one at Natural Surroundings. We were due to go to another at the latter to-day but woke to a very strong wind with overcast after a rainy Monday and night. It seemed another opportunity for some sea watching at Winterton Beach. Disappointing for birds, it was an onshore easterly we discovered. magnificent sea though. A huge white-topped swell, enhanced by a warm sun. Not conducive to finding birds, apart from a steady stream of Gannets, one Fulmar and a dozen terns. I saw a probable Great Skua but will not count it - glimpses of a chunky black bird with large white wing flashes occasionally appearing above the troughs.

PS Just read my pager !! Dozens of Arctic Skuas, a few Bonxies and other goodies reported off Happisburgh and Horsey this morning. Should have got out earlier.

It's not advisable to trap in your own space more than 2/3 times a week. We tend to stick to twice a week depending on what we are doing the following day. Emptying the trap takes a goodly time - identifying its contents much longer. Here are a very few of the latest.

Aphodius Rufipes (Dung Beetle sp)

Flounced Rustic

Old Lady - our first. Very apt for this household.

Parent Bug, Shield Bug sp

Six-striped Rustic

Garden Pebble - a Micro Evergestis Forficalis

True Lover's Knot

Light Emerald

A well camouflaged Red Underwing. Beautiful moth but camera shy.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

One Hour

Monday August 18

Stiff North Westerlies this morning, good for sea watching? The accompanying torrential showers put us off going until early afternoon. We paid for an hour's car parking at Winterton Beach before driving to the raised section near the shed, turning the car so that I could scope from my window. One other birder sat in the lee of the shed, someone we know as Honda man ! We first met him at Holden Honda in Norwich.
During the next hour when we had two more heavy showers, we saw about 16 Gannets, 5 Dunlin, a Cormorant, 6 Common Terns and.......a Red-necked Grebe and a Storm Petrel. It was whilst trying to ID the grebe in a heaving swell that a small dark bird with rounded wings, a very white rump and a square tail flew through my scope. I followed it, closely hugging the waves, in my scope for about 30 seconds. Unfortunately, Pam didn't get on to it as it was quite close in and out of view for her. Now,  Keith tells me that it's a reportable bird in Norfolk ! I must consult J and D on Friday as to how and who. 
There were also 3 Arctic Skuas flying north, one of them zooming up to hassle a Tern - which was empty- beaked.

Tuesday August 19

Another hour spent watching the moth traps being opened at Natural Surroundings near Holt. We almost aborted after the heavy overnight rain and the torrential shower as we were due to leave. Apart from arriving 20 minutes late - it was 9.00 not 9.30 opening - it was worth going. Four traps containing very few moths but a couple of new ones for us and a lovely Frosted Orange and a fresh Green Carpet. One can learn so much from the experienced moth-ers present.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Hold the Front Page

Sunday August 17

The Bug Mansion is virtually finished. Still a few more spaces to fill - suitable small logs required, cones collected from Bacton Woods yesterday. Turf 'roof' planted with saxifrage, very sparse as yet. Wild flower seeds will be scattered next spring.
Most of the work was done by Pam, a mountain of suitable filling material collected and stored in the utility room (glad that's gone), pallets cajoled from various sources. My contribution was downloading instructions from the web, muscle when needed and the occasional idea - the green roof was one.
Well done Pam, it looks great and I'm sure will have plenty of happy residents.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


August 10- 13

Sunday August 10

I had a rush of cholestorol to the blood on Sunday. Never before have I fancied a fry-up for Sunday breakfast - especially when we had very few of the necessary ingredients in stock. Where could we go ? I had a willing accomplice. 
It was Brunch time by the time we left, aiming for Cafe Bacton first, with low expectations of it being open, which proved to be accurate. Pam said she was driving further on to turn round but her unspoken idea was right. Almost immediately after Bacton chip shop there is a new (to me) cafe open, set back off the road with parking space in front.
Mis-matched tables and chairs, sofas and cushions, a 60s juke box and very pleasant staff. Placing our order for all day breakfast - the others were too big and contained stuff like black pudding - we'd only had time to do the DT pub quiz before our piled plates arrived. 2 rashers of bacon, 1 egg and a sausage, 2 hash browns, mushrooms, baked beans and a slice of toast. £5.50. Not greasy and we thoroughly enjoyed it. 
Is this a birding/wildlife Blog?
The edge of tropical storm Bertha (it was a hurricane) was still influencing the weather. A very strong offshore wind but temporarily dry. Parking on Walcott front, I was able to add a juvenile Arctic Tern and a good number of Gannets to the month list before the next tropical deluge forced us away.
On August 11th, we did the Winterton run, for the first time in a couple of months. An apparently calm sea was actually deeply troughed, concealing the few birds present. In an hour's watch, we saw about a dozen Sandwich Terns, 5 Cormorants, 3 Gannets and one Marsh Harrier which flew in off the sea and got us excited for a minute !
Sometime during the night, I noticed the brightness of the moonlight. Remembering the report of the extra bright and large moon due to its proximity to the earth, I viewed it through an open window. It looked great. Why didn't I go and get my camera?

Tuesday August 12
After lunch with friends, most of the day had gone. As we stopped in the drive, I noticed several insects and butterflies feeding on the small dahlias in the front border, seeming to favour the white ones with a yellow centre. I hurried indoors to change and get my camera but was diverted by a request for a caterpillar ID from neighbour  J. It was a Poplar Hawkmoth giant which she took using her camera phone.

I then spent 20 minutes or so waiting patiently for a restless Painted Lady butterfly to alight long enough for me to photograph it. When it did, it immediately folded its wings to feed. I managed in the end.

I did not see nor photograph the Clouded Yellow which flew through the back garden yesterday. I had seen one last week which I discounted as being unlikely ! 

Wednesday August 13
Last night, I was looking for the Perseid shower of 'shooting stars' but it was mostly overcast. Good for the moth trap maybe? No it wasn't. A very poor catch last night, both in quantity and variety. As many Micros as Micras. We find other insects in the trap too, especially beetles and bugs. This handsome shield bug appeared this morning.

Parent Bug
We'd put our own trap out instead of travelling to the Titchwell trap opening. We intend going to the Cley trap opening in the morning. Next week is less busy so we'll go to Titchwell then.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Birthday Butterflies

Sunday August 3

After emptying the moth trap, we set off for Warham Camp. Not an easy place to find, our large scale roadmap book of Norfolk  marked it as 'Fort' we found later... Warham is easy enough, it's the area where we look for flocks of wintering geese. 
After a very pleasant lunch at Warham Three Horseshoes, where we got instructions to the 'camp', which is actually an Iron Age Fort. A quarter of a mile up the road opposite the pub, there are two gates on the right, the righthand of which is the entry to the Fort. There is a small layby with room for four cars before this. We parked in the lefthand gateway.
200 yards down the track there is another gate with a pedestrian gateway beside it. Where were we going? To a large open area on a raised mound overlooking the Stiffkey river area and meadows. The Fort is a raised grass mound with moat remains. 

The latter is lined with a mass of wild flowers, a walkway in between. Low thistles, Groundnut (that's what I called it as a kid, Pignut here I think), Harebells, Ragwort, Coltsfoot and others I don't know. Should have taken a flower book, next time I will.

Thistle sp
 It was a very gusty-windy day, even in the moat. Despite this, there were hundreds of Chalkhill Blue butterflies flying their mad, erratic, restless way around. Seldom alighting for long and, when they did, closing their wings immediately. A photographic challenge. They're pretty small too. The also present Common Blue are a much deeper blue. The females are brown anyway. Finding a pair intent on mating was the answer, when their helicopter whirling dance was done, they actually stayed still for a few seconds. 

Male, bluer in the shade!

Usual view

Mating pair
 Chalkhill Blues were once found in Norfolk but these were introduced, the most recent in 2007 possibly. They're certainly doing well this year, a Club member said that they are into the thousands. Quite a spectacle.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time here and will return - on a weekday. Not crowded but a dozen or more people and the inevitable dog walkers. I'm not against dogs, their owners nor the walking BUT I wish some birding/natural history areas were free of them.

Our Beloved Snettisham

Friday August 1

Would we escape a shower to-day? The weather is more uncertain than it has been for the last week or so. Indeed parts of the west and south are getting storms again. We've had enough to top up the water butts which is most welcome. I can still dip the watering cans instead of having to wait for the tap outlet.
Birding did not start auspiciously, only 20 species by Abbey Farm but it did include Tree Sparrows feeding a second brood in an old nestbox on a very exposed house wall.

Very little at Abbey, we hastened on to Snettisham where it was an hour until high tide. The water was well in, a small number of beautiful summer Turnstones, Sanderlings and Oystercatchers still on the eastern shore. Most of the birds had already massed on any mud still exposed on the western shore. Seeing a few birders in front of Rotary Hide, that was our first call. They were watching a White-rumped Sandpiper on the near shore, feeding with a good number of the 4,000 Dunlin present. The nearest birder said ' Quick, look through my scope before you put yours up'. As I placed my eye to the lens, they all flew away !! Did I see it? No way could I count that. Most of the birds were escaping the rising tide, making their way further west. Baz and DH left wishing us Good Luck. Slim chance. We enjoyed the massed spectacle of Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Knot, Dunlin, some already congregating on the pit. The central hide was a victim of last year's storm surge, no point in going further. 

The Horned Poppies on the shore and the bank between the pits were a picture. The latter a tight mass of wildflowers.

Horned Poppy
 Reluctantly, we dragged ourselves away to breakfast at Hunstanton Tesco, tick off Fulmar along the cliffs and drive to Holme. Another spectacle as we entered the track out to the reserves. At least 200 Swallows and a few Martins clustered on the overhead wires. Very restless, they kept swarming into the air many descending once more. Impossible to photograph but I tried. They'd all gone by the time we returned...

Nothing to keep us at the reserve. On to Thornham, where the water was still high, before walking out to Island Hide at Titchwell. The first pool had 3 young Red-crested Pochard and Little Grebe with one young.  
About a dozen birders were stood on the main path at the entrance to the hide. Why? We went on to the hide, easily finding seats at the south end. After a wait of 45 minutes, the Spotted Crake appeared from the reeds, showing well for about five minutes before disappearing into the reedbed. Plenty of lovely waders to keep us occupied whilst waiting. Spotted Redshank, one ringed as an adult in Holland in 2008 - rings read by the warden, Wood Sandpiper and at least nine Spoonbills. Most too distant for my small pocket camera.
None of the birders on the bank had seen the Crake !
We didn't feel like hanging around at Cley just in case the Purple Heron showed again. we were home at 4.45, after ten hours with a list in the  lower 80s.